Restaurant review: Luigi Malones, Cork

THE last time Steve Jobs — the fourth anniversary of the Apple founder’s death has just passed — spoke in public the dying man described his vision for a new Apple headquarters. 

“We have a shot at building the best office in the world,” he said ignoring the pressing intrusion of his own mortality. 

This morning work on the giant O-shaped silver building in Cupertino, California, christened The Spaceship, continues. 

Designed by top-of-the-pile architect Norman Foster to celebrate Apple’s idea of itself: innovation, beauty and ease of use, the project is a blueprint of Apple’s concept for tomorrow’s workplace.

Foster describes it thus: “We have a building which is pushing social behaviour in the way people work to new limits.” 

But then the traditional workplace, the ones offering a job for life for those who like — or, more importantly, need — that kind of security are as scarce as a defined benefit pension scheme that should pay up as promised. 

Work has changed for ever, security and, tragically, the camaraderie generated by a common purpose and daily interaction is largely becoming a folk memory for many, many workers. 

Futurologists — bookies with degrees but not as well rewarded — have suggested that our grandchildren can expect to work in up to 40 different jobs and still be working as they approach 100 years of age. I’ll get off here, thanks.

The traditional workplace has changed utterly as the line between physical and digital blurs a worker’s presence is notional and optional. Mobile and cloud technology mean many people can work anywhere and at anytime. 

Performance and delivery have trumped presence. A desk in a office seems ever more a conduit to another time, almost an industrial relic like an anvil. 

The idea of downtime, the idea that a working day ends at some point or other seems almost quaint.

These profound but sometimes isolating changes have changed our social habits around work too. 

The days of a beer or three with work colleagues, and a safety-valve laugh-and-flirt, on a Friday evening seem but a memory, especially as so many workers — invariably women — live a stressful double life caught in the pincher movement of work and family.

This evolution has given rise to a new, well newish, kind of restaurant too. 

A kind of Tower of Bable eating experience where there’s something utterly inoffensive and predictable on the menu for everyone in the audience. Eating defined and emasculated by parity of esteem. 

It might be unfair to call them a kind of out-sourced canteen where neutrality is the key essence, where the food is a token bit player in the great work of social interaction. 

The kind of place that can more or less satisfy the vegan from human resources and the chomping carnivore from accounts at the same table and at the same time.

This week, if it’s not already too late, those who take it upon themselves to do the decent, uplifting things in life will be trying to book places like these for Christmas office outings — parties seems too active a description for such a going-through-the-motions option. 

They will have to be moderately priced (how useless a word “moderately” is in this context, one man’s moderate is another man’s splurge) and centrally located— nightclubs for the young, taxis for the middle aged and the last bus for the few veterans still in harness.

Luigi Malones ticks all of those boxes so very well that it might be a benchmark for that kind of enterprise. 

Efficient, unassuming and unchallenging it does what it says on the menu. An old friend NC joined me and we both chose a starter of prawn in garlic butter. 

And that’s what we got, entirely serviceable but hardly memorable. Main courses — baked salmon with potatoes and veggies for NC, ribs, chips and a salad for me were equally everyday. 

Nothing wrong but not even a hint of ambition — but then if you want ambitious cooking you go to a different kind of restaurant. I do not mean to dam with faint praise but Luigi Malones USP is not its food. 

It’s its location, its atmosphere, its service and its capacity to do large. And if one of my energetic colleagues, whose name I can barely remember because I very often work from home, books it for the Christmas night out I’d very gladly go.

The tab:

Three courses, coffees, three beers and a glass of wine cost €96.55, tip extra

How to:

Opening times/last orders, Monday-Thursday 12pm-9pm, Friday-Saturday 12pm-10pm, Sunday & bank holidays 1pm-9pm.

The Verdict

Food: 5/10

Service: 8/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Value: 5/10

In a sentence:

Fine location, fine room, fine service but, for all that, pretty underwhelming and pricey food.

Luigi Malones, 1-2 Emmet Place, Cork, 021 4278877, www.luigimalones.com 


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